Tireragh, the old barony on the eastern side of the River Moy estuary, derived its name from Tir-Fiachrach, meaning “the land of Fiachra” . The leading text on the area was long John O’Donovan‘s book The Genealogies, Tribes and Customs of Hy-Fiachrach, commonly called O’Dowd’s Country (1833).
Eastern shore of the River Moy estuary near Killanly, Castleconor etc. (Photo by C Michael Hogan)
The Gaelic tribe known as the Ui Fiachrach, who long controlled all of Connacht, split around the C7th AD into two factions; the Ui Fiachrach Aidhne in the south and the Ui Fiachrach Muaidhe in the north; the latter eventually occupied the area that is now known as the counties of Mayo and Sligo. In the C10th, their ruler was Aedh Ua Dubhda – the first of the O’Dowda dynasty, variously called kings, chiefs, lords, overlords, and taoiseachs, who ruled Northern Connaacht until the C13th when the Anglo-Normans took control, and remained the most powerful and influential family in Tireragh.
Castleconor & Corbally (Co. Sligo / Northwest)
Castleconor/ Castleconnor, a village in the old barony of Tireragh / Tyreragh east of the River Moy estuary, shares its name with an old Anglican / Civil and coterminous modern Roman Catholic parish. Lewis (1837) mentioned that in his time the parish had 4507 inhabitants.
Killanley / Castleconnir parish church (CoI), built in 1818, has an impressive tower and steeple that seems out of proportion to the rather cramped surroundings. It is believed to have been named after an earlier church dedicated to Saint Patrick’s sister. The old graveyard contains a headstone to Thady Foody, a former hedge-school master who died in 1869 aged 83.
Rathmulcah Ringfort, standing between the coast road and the River Moy estuary, has been in existence from around 600 AD or even earlier, and is one of the most imposing of the many remaining raths in the area, erroneously identified as Danish by Lewis (1837). The fort has an accessible souterrain.
Caisleán MhicChonchobhair, / Mac Conchuir’s castle / Castle Connor (No. 5 of the 20 O’Dowd Clan castles listed in Wikipedia), the ruins of which are still visible today on the River Moy estuary, was built by Piers de Bermingham in the early C13th after defeating the sitting O’Dowda chieftans, who then aligned themselves with the O’Connors of Sligo, who allowed them to employ their own Merceneries provided they remained loyal to their overlords. In 1371 the combined O’Connors and O Dowda’s retook Tireragh and Ardnaree. The O Dowda’s occupied Ardnaree Castle and the O’Connors retained the land later known as Castle Connor (which some say derives from another structure built on the same site by Conor O’Dowda in 1520, of which nothing remains)
Castletown / Castleton / Cottlestown
This townland appears to be where the first settlements in the area took place. John O’Donovan‘s book The Genealogies, Tribes and Customs of Hy-Fiachrach, commonly called O’Dowd’s Country (1833) refers to a clan callled the O’Mailduns / O’Muldoon’s who held the “mansion seat” in Castletown and were defenders of the area at large.
O’Dowda’s Castle, (No. 6 of the 20 O’Dowd Clan castles listed in Wikipedia) is a derelict fortification complete with twin turrets, built in the C15th by the O’Dowda family, who were dispossessed by a Cromwellian cavalry officer called Robert Morgan c.1655, and was briefly occupied by Williamite forces in 1690.
Castletown Manor / House is thought to have been added in the early C19th to an C18th structure which in turn replaced a fortified house constructed c. 1655 next to O’Dowda’s Castle by Robert Morgan, whose son Hugh and grandson Marcus Anthony were both elected members of the Irish Parliament. The property was sold in the 1760s to the Kirkwood family, who built the famine wall enclosing the estate, and subsequently passed to the Boyd family before being purchased by the State in the 1920s. Still a private residence, the attractive Country House has some interesting architectural features, a splendid old farmyard and delightful mature gardens. It is open to the public by appointment on certain days in summer.
St Joseph’s church (RC) is an attractive modern edifice set in landscaped grounds.
Corbally is the Northwestern terminal of ByRoute 16
Scurmore was a scene of slaughter in September 1798; after the French invaders had captured Ballina, a small band marched northwards to engage the Crown forces led by Lord Portarlington of Sligo. Along the way, able-bodied men were forced to join the Franco/Irish battalion, and in the skirmish at those forced to join were placed out front, yelled at in French and butchered by the British.
Inishcrone / Enniscrone & Kilglass (Co. Sligo / West)
Inishcrone (off.)/ Inniscrone / Enniscrone (pop.) (Inis Crabhann / Inis Eascair Abhainn – “the island on the sandbank in the river”) (pop. 800) is an old-fashioned family seaside resort famed for its scenic 18-hole championship golf course, Blue Flag beach and seaweed baths, plus the inevitable children’s amusements, chipppers, krazy golf / pitch & putt etc.
Enniscrone Pier, a fine stone structure dating from c.1850, is still used to moor local fishing vessels, available for deep sea angling, shark safaris and other maritime excursions. Boats are also available for waterskiing etc., and the pier is a popular teenage diving spot at high tide. (Photo – Donal Kennedy, whose Atantic Mist operates regular mackerel fishing trips for day trippers in summer)-
Enniscrone Strand is a 5km-long white sandy beach stretching eastwards from Eniscrone village to a headland at the mouth of the Moy River estuary on Killala Bay, opposite Bertragh Island. In addition to traditional pursuits such as bathing (exceptionally safe) and beach casting (for sea trout, bass and plaice), the strand is nowadays home to two modern Surfing Schools.
The grassy sand dunes at the headland are weirdly lunar, with great views of sea and moutanis (both Nephin and Benbulben are visible from here); the largest encloses the extraordinary Valley of Diamonds. The nearby Cnoc na gCorp (“hill of bodies”) is locally held to have been formed from piles of dead bodies bodies of Vikings after a confrontation in 891 AD.
Enniscrone´s scenic surroundings, popular for walking, cycling and horse riding (from two local stables) are dotted with archaeological sites, including Standing Stone allignments, Ringforts and soutterains, and some megalithic tombs can be seen near the western end of the small ridge overlooking the village and Castle Field.
Enniscrone Castle & Valentine’s church
Enniscrone Castle and Valentine’s Church drawn for Colonel Cooper by William Frederick Wakeman on 1 August 1879.
Enniscrone Castle / O’Dowd’s / Nolan´s Castle (No. 7 of the 20 O’Dowda Clan strongholds listed in Wikipedia), is thought to date from the late C14th. An earlier castle believed to have been built for the O’Dowds in the C13th by a man called Albabach Mor (Big Scotchman), probably replaced a C12th structure built when the O’Dowda replaced the O’Caomhain rulers of North Connacht. The castle was destroyed and rebuilt several times through the 1500s as Burkes, O’Connors, and the O’Donnells struggled to control the area.
In 1512, during the inter-clan conflict between the Burkes of Mayo and the O’Donnells of Donegal, the former occupied the castle until the latter besieged, demolished and later restored it. The Mac Donnells, who were descended from Scottish gallowglasses in the service of the O’Dowds, sold the castle in 1597 to John Crofton, who probably rebuilt it in a more English/plantation style. It was acquired by Thomas Nolan of Ballinrobe, whose son John was living there in 1635.
A garrison installed by David O’Dowd at the outbreak of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in 1641 was defeated by Parliamentarian troops led by Sir Charles Coote in 1645. Under the Cromwellian Settlement the castle and 65,000 acres of land were granted to Sir Frances Gore, whose descendants were succeeded by the Orme family while the castle gradually fell into ruin.
Valentine’s church was named after Thomas Valentine from Lancashire, the local Anglican clergyman from 1712 until his death aged 90 in 1765; a plaque to his memory can still be seen in the overgrown ruin. The rectangular structure was probably his reconsruction of Cill Insi, an older ecclesiastical edifice known to have been still standing in 1666 and possibly restored c.1679 (a bell bearing an inscription dating it to that year was found in the old Ballina Workhouse in 1934). The church was evidently damaged during the 1798 Rebellion and does not seem to have been used again.
Kilcullen’s Seaweed Baths & Seawater Showers, a splendid Edwardian style therapeutic / recreational bath house overlooking Enniscrone Beach and Killala2` Bay from the Cliff Road, dates from 1912 and retains the original fittings of gigantic free-standing porcelain baths with brass taps full of unpolluted Atlantic Ocean water steamed into a hot oily iodine soup which bathers wallow in before eventually emerging totally relaxed and rejuvenated, with beautifully moisturised skin. Aficionados flock here from all over the world to enjoy the surreal experience. (Photo by robdet)
Waterpoint Aqua Park is an Indoor Swimming Pool with a superb 65m waterslide, fantastic kiddies fun pool, adult health suite and fitness gym.
The Diamond Coast Hotel and the Ocean Sands Hotel are the top-end choices in a range of accommodation options that includes caravan / tent camping facilities, B&Bs and self-catering rentals in the village or dotted across the extensive holiday home estates. Places to eat vary from good restaurants to take-aways. There are a number of good pubs and one nightclub.
The Enniscrone Black Pig
The Enniscrone Black Pig, a notable concrete landmark in Enniscrone for many years, was originally resident on Main Street and now lives in the gardens at the entrance to the Diamond Coast Hotel. Sculpted by Cillian Rogers, it measures 4m long, about 1.5m high and weighs 3 tonnes, and is popularly reputed to have long been the biggest piggy-bank in Ireland. (Photo by Owen Doody)
The sculpture celebrates the Legend of the Enniscrone Black Pig, a monstrous wild boar with large poisonous bristles, which rampaged through the district killing everyone in his path. The villagers used their spears, hay forks, billhooks and other sharp farm instruments to run the creature up to a place still known as “Muckduff” (Muc dúbh – “Black Pig”), where he was killed and covered with large amounts of stone and earth; the mound remains to this day, and a local stream is called the Rosnamuckyduff, which means “wood of the black pig”.
The Enniscrone Black Pig Festival, a weekend of fun and live entertainment, is held in mid-August each year.
The Enniscrone Walking Festival in the middle of September focuses on the coastline and nearby Ox Mountains.
The Enniscrone Seaweed Festival is held at the beginning of October.
Lecan / Lackan Castle / Castle Firbis was long the principal seat of the Mac Ferhisig / MacFirbis dynasty, hereditary Bards / genealogists who played a pivotal role at the inauguration ceremonies of successive O’Dowd Chieftains of Tireragh, and also produced a long line of leading Gaelic poets. Their castle housed a Bardic School of some renown, where the important Middle Irish texts Leabhar Buidhe Leacáin / The Yellow Book of Lecan (1391) and Leabhar Mór Leacain / The Great Book of Lecan (1416), now kept in the libraries of TCD and the RIA respectively, were penned. From the C14th to the C17th, the head of the MacFirbis family presided over a school of historical law in Lacken. The last of the family, Duald MacFerbis, was stabbed to death en route to Dublin in 1670, aged over 80, ending an illustrious lineage.
Kilglass / Kilglas (Cill Ghlas , probably a corruption of Cill Molaise – “St Molash’s church”), a small village, shares its name with the larger Anglican / Civil and Roman Catholic parish that takes in Enniscrone.
Lewis (1837) wrote that Kilglass contained 4275 inhabitants, and that “Many of the peasantry who assembled here in 1798 were killed in an attack made by the cavalry”. He also mentioned “the late Rev. J. Valentine“, and referred to a Roman Catholic “chapel … built in 1825, at an expense of £600“.
The old Kilglass church had certainly gone out of use before the end of the C17th, but the churchyard was the only burial place for residents of all religious denominations in the area until 1829. The tombstone of Coronet James Woods (d.1692) has often been mistaken for that of the poet Duald McFirbis.
Kilglass church (CoI), built in 1829 with a grant of £900 from the Board of First Fruits, features a handsome spire.The MacFirbis Centre iis an adjacent community hall.
The church of the Holy Family (RC) is the parish church for Kilglass, which is also served by the modern church of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven in Eniscrone village.
Pullaheeney (Poll an Chaonaigh), a small creek, shares its name with a ruined medieval Castle / Tower House and a picturesque C19th harbour.
Coastguard Station at Pullaheeney harbour (aka Enniscrone Coastguard Station), established c.1850 by the British government to prevent smuggling, was burnt in September 1920, after Republican raiders looted it and took away all the guns and ammunition, as well as other goods. Official documents were also destroyed. The 17 occupants were allowed to leave with their personal belongings, and nobody was injured. (Photo by Hazel Cudmore) (A Tripadvisor photo found online seems incompatible – mislabelled?)